3 Myths Underlying Trump’s Recent List of Immigration Priorities

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This past Sunday night, the White House released a 6.5 page-long list of “Immigration Principles & Policies,” showing where this administration’s priorities truly lie.

The document is filled with anti-immigration and anti-immigrant, draconian, hard-line proposals. More importantly, it reflects how the Trump administration is simply out of touch with reality. The Trump administration makes clear both its blatant ignorance and/or its willful disregard of the facts. It is one thing for the most powerful office in the world to suggest badly thought-out policy proposals. It is another, more tragic thing entirely, to have those policies built on misleading, half-true and downright false information.

There are many issues to be found in this document, but I’m outlining three of dozens.

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“It is one thing for the most powerful office in the world to suggest badly thought-out policy proposals. It is another, more tragic thing entirely, to have those policies built upon misleading, half-true, and downright false information.”

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Myth 1: The current law relating to Unaccompanied Minor Children Creates a “Dramatic Pull Factor for Additional Illegal Immigration”

Section 1, Part B. 

There are many reasons why unaccompanied children, primarily from Central American countries, would make the harrowing journey to the U.S., aside from the current laws in place:

  • The increasing rates of violence, including the targeting of young people and their families;
  • They seek to be reunited with their families that made the journey before them;
  • They seek a better life with greater economic opportunity in the U.S.

Failing to include these other factors and calling this factor a “dramatic pull” is a dishonest representation of the facts on part of the Trump administration. In reality, the situation is deeply complicated, multi-factored, and requires serious study and attention.

There’s no denying it. Dealing with UACs is a serious challenge for U.S. policy. Trump seeks to resolve the situation by deporting young people and their families faster, a inhumane quick fix that fixes nothing.

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Myth 2: Immigrants who enter the U.S. without permission and work here undermine job opportunities and reduce wages for American workers

Section 1, Part F. 

Anti-immigration groups and politicians have consistently used this as a talking point: “Illegal immigrants are here taking our jobs from hard-working Americans!” The field of Economics is incredibly math-intensive, and there are means and methods to produce results that best align with your politics. Anti-immigration “economists” often spout two beliefs:

  • If we reduced the number of immigrants, more jobs would open up for native-born Americans, and
  • Adding more workers (immigrants) forces wages to decrease for everyone based on basic supply and demand.

Both of these models are just plain WRONG. Economist Ethan Lewis at the CATO Institute thoroughly debunked these longknown misconceptions:

Immigrants add jobs, in part by raising consumer demand. So getting rid of immigrants, such as by deporting unauthorized workers, would most likely destroy jobs and raise native unemployment.

Wrong Model 2 is based on the fallacy that the capital stock is fixed. This is the basis of an overly simplistic supply and demand model that is sometimes incorrectly referred to as a basic economics “prediction” that adding more workers always means lowering wages. In practice, capital adjusts and there is no wage harm just from adding workers.

Overall, immigration is and has been a good thing for the U.S. economy. If the Trump administration truly cares about the American worker, it will utilize the best information available from real economists to make informed policy decisions instead of buying into antiquated, anti-immigrant propaganda.

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Myth 3: The Porous southern border presents a clear threat to our national security and public safety, and is exploited by drug traffickers and criminal cartels.

Section 1, Part A.

Is the southern border between the U.S. and Mexico porous, filled with gaps? Yes.

Is there a chance that drug traffickers and even terrorists would use these gaps at the southern border to enter the U.S. and threaten our national security and public safety? Sure.

Trump and his administration, however, have bought into the false assumption that investing billions of dollars in a physical border wall would significantly halt or deter the movement of drug traffickers and criminal cartel members. In reality, drug smugglers make countless successful attempts to cross drugs into the U.S. through legal ports of entry, a fact recognized by the DEA, and even John Kelly, Trump’s Chief of Staff.

Even if we concede that there’s a chance that a border wall would make us safer, it’s estimated to cost $31.2 million per mile (for 1,000 miles), which doesn’t even include maintenance costs.  Disappointingly, we have yet to see a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis on the wall’s efficacy or how it compares to other technologies.

National Security and Public Safety are key issues we all care about. Before spending billions to build a border wall, however, the Trump administration should build a solid case showing why it’s a good idea worth the extreme costs.

These 3 Myths are only the tip of the iceberg. There has never been a more crucial time to mobilize and fight back.


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